Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Thinking About Scribbling Maps

The other day I stood in a bookstore admiring a book of photos of old maps.  Wonderful works of art in which the maker recorded what was "known"--including seas full of monsters.  These maps showed the imagination of the artist, not just the accumulated knowledge of explorers.

With our ability to photograph the earth from space, we can make more accurate maps, of course. But somehow Google's maps, which are wonderful for getting from here to there (at least most of the time), lack the character of a map which depicts monsters to remind me that the ocean contains mysteries and dangers.

It got me wanting to draw more maps in my sketchbook.  Not necessarily maps of the streets.  Again, we can go to Google for that.  More like maps of my experiences in a place.  Or something like that.  I'm not actually sure what I want to do with these maps.  But the notion has caught me and I want to think more about it. And the scribble some maps.

Lots of sketchers include maps in their sketchbooks.  Maps of gardens, houses, towns.  Maps of journeys.  Maps of imaginary lands from childhood.  Maps of future plans.  I always love looking at these.  But I've never really thought about practicing this.

I went looking through my sketchbooks to see if I have drawn any maps and I found two, both from some months ago.

First is, as I called it, an inaccurate view of the campus of Hope College, in Holland, Michigan.

I assure you, the campus is more attractive than what I've draw here.  And of course, this is not the whole thing, but one little corner of the campus where I've spent the most time.  I did it from memory.  The distinctive Dutch-inspired architecture makes the campus a fun place to draw!

I continued looking and found a map I drew of my yard (prompted, I think, by a Sketchbook Skool assignment to map out and then journal about a journey).

Not super imaginative, though, like the first one, personal in that the landmarks I recorded are things important to me.  There is a level of authenticity that I like, even if accuracy is not high.

I'm going to think more about this notion of imaginative mapping.  Of taking a "high altitude" view of a familiar place or path, and then filling it in with landmarks significant because of personal experience, or the "on the ground" point of view.   I like the idea of thinking about place in this way--having to pay close attention  to two different vantage points.

I feel a particular sort of energy, thinking about the intimate, specific moments which occur inside such a big space.  And of course, the "big space" of my home is minuscule in the context of the space of the nation, or planet, or solar system, or universe.  Yet the building where I had my classes, or the twin tree that stands in the center of my property hold so much meaning for me.

Yes, I like the juxtapositions here.  I think I'll work on drawing some maps.

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